The Real Deal New York

Planned Settlement House demo sparks backlash

School association to raze the 113-year-old Jackson Street Settlement House
June 03, 2014 03:20PM

The impending demolition of 120 Jackson Street, where “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” author Betty Smith once taught sewing to immigrant children, has neighbors in a NIMBY uproar.

The School Settlement Association wants to raze the 113-year-old Jackson Street Settlement House to make way for a new structure to house programs it wants to add for Williamsburg and Greenpoint neighborhood children. The current space, they say, isn’t large enough to accommodate a planned expansion of the association’s after-school and summer camp activities.

Still, locals concerned about noise and dust question whether the undertaking is worthwhile.

“They are going to tear up the shingles of my house and my family is going to be disrupted,” Phil Montana, who lives next door to the site, told the Brooklyn Paper. “I do not think it is necessary.”

The planned revamp would replace the current three-story building with a new four-story community center, a project estimated to cost around $18 million. Association partner Saint Nicks Alliance has already been fundraising for one year in an attempt to meet the goal.

Though the current structure was built in 1901, it is not landmarked or in a historic district.

In honor of the original building’s ties to Smith’s novel, the School Settlement Association plans to plant a Tree of Heaven — a Chinese deciduous tree that grows quickly and is a symbol of perseverance, according to the Brooklyn Paper. The palm, however, is also known for a harsh smell and aggressive root system that poisons soil to push out other plants, according to the paper. [Brooklyn Paper]Julie Strickland